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Aug 11, 2015 10:46 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Throne-Holst, Calone Prepare To Battle For Right To Challenge Zeldin

David Calone and Anna Throne-Holst
Aug 11, 2015 4:24 PM

The next congressional election is 15 months away, but the race to challenge U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin is already heating up, as two candidates pad their respective resumes with endorsements while filling their war chests with campaign dollars—and preparing for an initial battle between them.

The burgeoning race for the Democratic nomination in the 1st Congressional District pits experience in elected office against private sector success, a newly minted Democrat against a lifelong member of the party, and the interests of the East End against those of western Suffolk County.

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Setauket businessman David Calone both launched their respective campaigns this past spring and have steadily gained momentum, as both have picked up support from elected officials near and far while also securing roughly $500,000 each for their respective campaigns.

“Anytime there’s an open or first-term incumbent seat, you usually have an interest from the other side, because the seat is vulnerable,” Suffolk County Democratic Chair Rich Schaffer said. “I think [Mr. Zeldin] has demonstrated that he’s in lockstep with the extreme Republican right in Congress, out of touch with the mainstream voters in his district, and I think he’ll be very vulnerable.”

Mr. Calone and Ms. Throne-Holst will likely face off in a primary election next summer to determine who will face Mr. Zeldin, a Republican from Shirley, in the fall of 2016, leaving nearly a year for the two candidates to slug it out.

With eight years of experience in Southampton Town Hall, including the last six as supervisor, along with a prior career tending to the finances of nonprofits, Ms. Throne-Holst is running on her record of fiscal stewardship. Mr. Calone, chief executive of Setauket-based Jove Equity Partners, a venture capital firm that has backed health care and internet based start-ups, is championing his success as a job creator.

Mr. Calone, 41, entered the race in April after receiving encouragement from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC. In addition to his business ventures, Mr. Calone also helped create the Congressional Caucus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship to advise congressmen on how to best go about creating jobs.

He has been involved in the Democratic Party since he was 17 and has served on the Suffolk County Planning Commission for the past several years. Though he did not expect a challenger after meeting with the DCCC in Washington, D.C., Mr. Calone said he is looking forward to the increased attention that typically comes with a contested primary election.

“In my experience, getting the message out there sooner is never a bad thing,” he said.

Ms. Throne-Holst, 55, of Noyac was elected to the Southampton Town Board in 2007 and defeated incumbent Supervisor Linda Kabot in 2009 to take on the town’s highest elected position. Though she has always served as a registered member of the Independence Party, Ms. Throne-Holst was cross-endorsed by the Democrats in each of her runs for office. In May, she filed the necessary paperwork to change her registration to Democrat before next fall’s election.

She prides herself on stabilizing the town’s finances and helping it earn a AAA credit rating while holding the line on taxes. She also pointed out that she is the only candidate who has won all four of her elections, unlike Mr. Zeldin who lost to then-Congressman Tim Bishop in 2008 and Mr. Calone who has never run for public office.

However, she said she welcomes a primary race against Mr. Calone next year. “Democracy is something we hold very dear here, and it’s part of our process, and I welcome anyone who is willing to put their name in to hold public office,” she said. “It is a challenging but very rewarding line of work, so I applaud anyone who wants to step in and do it.”

Known as a fundraising powerhouse even at the town level, Ms. Throne-Holst has lived up to her reputation thus far, raising $512,580 within just five weeks of formally announcing her candidacy. Mr. Calone wasn’t far off, raising more than $480,000 during his first quarter of fundraising—$505,000 total when factoring in a $25,000 loan his campaign took out.

“That speaks volumes about how vulnerable Zeldin is, when two people could raise more than a million dollars to run against him in such a short time,” Mr. Schaffer said.

Mr. Zeldin, who as able to make use of the full three-month quarter, raised $568,000 over that span, according to campaign finance records.

Both candidates have racked up their fair share of support from other elected officials, with Ms. Throne-Holst winning the clout contest with thus far receiving the backing of U.S. Representative Steve Israel, former U.S. Representative Carolyn McCarthy and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. She also has the support of EMILY’s List, a pro-choice political action committee focused on helping female candidates get elected.

She also has garnered support from various East End officials, including State Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr., Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, Shelter Island Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty, former East Hampton Town Supervisor and former New York State Democratic Committee Chair Judith Hope, Southampton Town Councilman Brad Bender, West Hampton Dunes Village Mayor Gary Vegliante, Westhampton Beach Village Trustee Brian Tymann, and former Riverhead Democratic Committee Chair Butch Langhorn.

Mr. Calone and his supporters tout his endorsements from registered Democrats and elected officials, particularly those in the more heavily populated portions of the 1st Congressional District, which spans from Smithtown to Montauk Point. His supporters include State Assemblyman Steve Englebright, County Legislator and Democratic Majority Leader Rob Calarco, Suffolk County Legislators Sarah Anker and Al Krupski, Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee Chair Tony Parlatore, and Brookhaven Town Councilwomen Valerie Cartright and Connie Kepert.

Barry McCoy of Setauket, the representative for the New York State Democratic Committee’s 4th District and a Calone supporter, said Ms. Throne-Holst’s supporters from outside the district aren’t as familiar with the issues as Mr. Calone’s backers and, therefore, should be held in lower regard.

Mr. McCoy argued that Mr. Calone would be a stronger general election candidate because his connection to the various communities within the more heavily populated Brookhaven Town will make him more competitive against Mr. Zeldin. He also warned that if Ms. Throne-Holst entrenches herself too deeply on the East End, as Mr. Bishop did, she will make herself vulnerable to attacks from Mr. Zeldin.

“She will be portrayed as the candidate of the rich summer people on the East End,” Mr. McCoy said. “I don’t see any way Zeldin doesn’t use that against her.”

Southampton Town Democratic Committee Chair Gordon Herr, who has endorsed Ms. Throne-Holst in her run for Congress, said her position as town supervisor has put her in direct contact with officials in neighboring towns, as well as in Suffolk County and on the state and national level.

“Being a supervisor of a town is really a management position,” Mr. Herr said. “It’s allowed Anna to work with elected officials all over the state, and that’s been a tremendous advantage for us. I just think her experience sets her apart.”

Mr. Herr also said if Hillary Clinton goes on to earn the Democratic nomination for president, it would be a boon to all female candidates in 2016, which he said could put her in a favorable position in a run against Mr. Zeldin.

Ms. Throne-Holst has accused the incumbent of being “out of touch” with his constituents, pointing to Mr. Zeldin’s votes to cut funding to national security, Medicare, Pell grants and Title X, a grant program dedicated to providing people with family planning services. Meanwhile, Mr. Calone said Mr. Zeldin, like many now sitting in Congress, is a career politician with little knowledge of what it takes to facilitate businesses and create jobs in the real world.

Jennifer DiSiena, a spokesman for Mr. Zeldin, said the congressman is not concerned about either Mr. Calone or Ms. Throne-Holst, writing both off as weak candidates. She added that Mr. Zeldin will be taking advantage of what will most likely be “an expensive, divisive Democratic primary” election that must be held “before they choose their nominee.”

Ms. DiSiena said Mr. Zeldin has built a reputation as a hawk on foreign policy and education while also holding positions on key committees, including Foreign Affairs, Veteran Affairs and Transportation.

“The congressman’s record of fighting for his constituents, and securing victories for Long Island, speaks for itself,” she wrote in an email. “Right now, the congressman is focused on his work for Long Island, not an election that is over a year away.”

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The Supervisor might have better grassroots support if she would update us on the status of the hit-and-run death of Sister Jackie Walsh, over three years ago, including having the SHT PD issue its own full and complete update, and release all the information about the failed investigation, which the Press called a miscarriage of justice in an editorial in 2012.

Were other suspects considered, including the members of Mr. Zaro's family and staff? Why did the PD wait 11 days to ask the public ...more
By PBR (4952), Southampton on Aug 14, 15 11:11 AM
Why don't you go to a Town Board meeting, stand up, and ask yourself? Years of digs at the supervisor on the comments section has gotten you no answers. Perhaps you should take a more "direct" approach?
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Aug 14, 15 11:53 AM
1 member liked this comment
Nobody will talk about this case, or any other police department debacle, because the people running the department- then and now they are mostly the same- are complete idiots and have no clue how to run an investigation, much less a police department. This dept needs a new chief from outside the department who will professionalize this joke of a dept and clean house
By PoliticallyIncorrect (45), earth on Aug 15, 15 7:19 AM
WOW Queen Anna has the support of a coalition of baby killers in the guise of Emily's List along with some Democrat Party hacks. Never gonna happen.
By bigfresh (4593), north sea on Aug 14, 15 4:07 PM
she doesn't stand a chance. the 1st Congressional District goes well beyond Southampton Town all the way west to Smithtown. Those people outside the Southampton won't vote for her because she's a nobody. Zeldin is doing a fine job and see no problem with him being re-elected! Besides, if ATH were elected, what would she do? Push for a plastic bag ban in the US? or some other green, sustainable, save the earth initiative?
By Jaws (244), Amity Island on Aug 14, 15 11:11 PM
This is now the time for Progressive Democrats like Bridget Fleming and others whose progressive Town interests have been repeatedly assaulted by ATH and the Town Democratic Executive Committee to end the political career of this interloper in the Democratic Party who spent 8 years taking advantage of the Democratic machinery and resources while simultaneously fighting against Democratic ideals, to now extract their just dues.

This is now the time to work, contribute, and turn out the vote ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Aug 15, 15 12:55 AM
1 member liked this comment
Here's a flash -- we have an important Town and County election happening THIS November, that's in 2015, folks. Urgent issues of direct concern to the East End are at stake now, but meanwhile people are jumping the gun on a Congressional election that's not for another year yet -- November 2016.

So what's this about? Why do some people think it's alright for them to suck oxygen, donor money and energy from THIS year's election for the sake of NEXT year's election?

Most of this, ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1966), Quiogue on Aug 15, 15 10:32 AM
1 member liked this comment
Wow not only does she not have the support of her constituents anymore she is falling out of favor with her own local party. Talk about burning bridges
By GoldenBoy (350), EastEnd on Aug 15, 15 12:19 PM
Anna literally cannot lose in this contest. If she is given the Democratic nomination and wins the general election, the ambit of her solipsistic opportunism will expand geometrically. What egoistic heights might she not scale with an entire nation to con? (Dare one imagine - - - SENATOR Throne-Holst!?) If she fails to secure the Democratic nomination, or Zeldin wins the general election, her fall-back position is to become disgustingly rich selling real estate for all those property developers ...more
By highhatsize (4184), East Quogue on Aug 15, 15 1:35 PM
1 member liked this comment
ATH sold out the entire eastern portion of her own town to aviation interests after telling them she would fight helicopter noise. She won't even carry her own town and angry folks in North Sea, Noyack, Sag Harbor and Northaven will roast her.
By we could run this town! (129), the oceanfront trailer park on Aug 15, 15 5:13 PM
... ATH's political career ends 12/31/15 and her real estate sales career begins the next day.
By William Rodney (558), southampton on Aug 20, 15 2:35 AM